What led to your interest in a career in medicine? Who or what inspired you? I have always been interested in science. Components of clinical research solidified my interest in medical science. Aside from the educational content and challenge, I always was interested in health and public service. These two aspects, science and service, seem to be the pillars of medicine, at least for me.
How did you prepare yourself for medical school? The application process? To apply to medical school, I had to prepare myself in many ways. My preparation included service, studying, academics, and gaining experience. There was not an official start and end to this preparation, everything was an ongoing process well before the official opening of the application season. Services included community work and clinical volunteering. Studying mostly centered around my preparation for the MCAT, but many aspects of the interviewing process can also be studied, or rather rehearsed. I prepared my academics throughout my undergraduate years, staying focused on all classwork. I also gained a great deal of experience in hospitals, and research labs. Here I was able to show my ability to apply what I am learning.
What undergraduate experiences were most instrumental to your success? By far, my work in a laboratory on campus was most instrumental. Collaborating with scientists and physicians in an applied setting was very beneficial. This kind of experience is only beneficial if you really love medical research. I have found similar benefit from getting significantly involved in clinical volunteering.
What obstacles or hurdles did you overcome in your medical school journey? It was a long journey that took a great deal of perseverance. There will be a few set backs along the way, but if it is what you want then you will find a way to keep going. For me it was dealing with the long application cycle twice. It was difficult not to get in the first time. Depending on the number of schools to which you apply, it can even be very expensive. But, most of all, it can be frustrating. It is important to understand that things will work out. I did not think having the extra time between college and medical school would be something positive. However, I made it so. Getting a chance to work in the science field, do more research, and develop more as a whole person was something I would not trade back now.
Did you did matriculate directly from NU to medical school or did you have a gap year? I had a gap year. I actually applied directly from NU but was not accepted until my second time applying. In the gap, I worked for a company doing clinical research. I also maintained some of my responsibilities in the undergraduate lab I worked in. All the while, I maintained my effort to study and improve each aspect of my application.
Whether you entered medical school directly from NU or had a gap year (or more), looking back, are you happy with the decision you made? Why or why not? Yes I am happy with the decision I made. The process took so long, that I was able to participate in so many experiences that reassured me of this decision. So, it’s not always a bad thing to not get in the first time, or to have a gap year.
Is medical school what you thought it would be? Would you share your thoughts? Medical school is an adaptive experience. It’s not so much the difficulty of the material, but the volume of the material that gets presented which makes it difficult. But what makes it amazing is how it all gets integrated. Every class is integrated into the curriculum, so you will be presented the biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, physiology, pathology of the same clinical correlation. Even better, you will begin seeing clinical examples if the patients you slowly begin encountering, or seeing, with physicians. So it’s a lot of independent book learning, very heavy, but more clinical experience than I expected.
What are your career goals right now? Have they changed since you begin your medical school studies? My career goals are generally the same. I would like to practice clinical medicine, rather than go into academic medicine. However, now that I am being introduced to the wide variety of fields and specialties of clinical medicine I am enjoying specialties that I never thought I would. So, if anything, my career goals have expanded.
What advice do you have for new applicants considering a career in medicine? Medicine is a great field of study because it is so interdisciplinary. I encourage you to explore as much as you can about medicine, community service, patient interactions, the academics, and even the research. When anything or everything that you are doing in your preparation (academics, research, volunteering etc) reminds you of medicine, then you should give applying everything you can.